Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Baseball

June 19, 2017

Dear Families,

It’s no secret our family eats, sleeps, and dreams baseball. My love of baseball extends beyond my love of watching Hunter play or looking through Maddy’s most recent photos of the game. It reaches to the very core of life. I’m confident that each of us, at one point or another, crossed paths with Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  While the sentiment and assertions of his work are very accurate, I would argue that I all I ever needed to know, I learned from baseball.  I credit the founders of Baseballism for summing up my thoughts into concise statements and phrases. Each one contains deep philosophical meaning for me.

  1. If you don’t run to your position, someone else will. On June 1, 1925, Wally Pipp lost his starting position to Lou Gehrig. Why? He asked his coach for the day off. Never, never, never get lazy. Period. Enough said.
  2. Live life like a 3-1 count. Known as the hitter’s count, 3-1 puts the pressure on the pitcher. Missing location on the next pitch awards the batter a base. To reduce the risk of traffic on the bases, the pitcher must serve up a strike. Serving the wrong pitch could result in disaster. Hanging a curveball opens the door to a bomb over the fence. This weekend, it resulted in a base clearing triple for Hunter. When you live life like a 3-1 count, you sit perched ready to open the door to success. You embrace the challenges of life with confidence. You stand ready to succeed. You expect it.
  3. Be Great at Dealing with Failure. Be Horrible at accepting it. Baseball provides constant opportunity to learn, especially from failure. As with everything, response to failure defines you. I define baseball as the great equalizer.  Rarely will a player go more than a few days or weeks without the opportunity to respond to failure. This past weekend, Hunter had the opportunity 24 hours after hitting his base clearing triple. The highest of highs, to the lowest of lows. He had, by far, one of his worst pitching outings, EVER. I argue that it directly correlates to the weather. He pitches amazing when the moisture in the air is high.  His ball moves amazingly well.  In the heat, his ball fails to locate. I believe that it directly correlates to the pressure he places on the ball up to and upon release. He doesn’t change the pressure regardless of the weather, and it matters. (I digress…) I truly expected the remainder of the day to fall into the abyss. I expected rage and anger to control every response. His response shocked me. When I asked how he was, he said, “I just gotta stay here.” He drew an imaginary flat, even line. I knew what he meant. He meant he couldn’t allow emotion to beat him down. “Be Great at Dealing with Failure.” But he also refuses to accept it. When we experience failure, does it consume us? Cripple us? Leave us immobile? I admit, sometimes I fall into one or all of those situations. My son pulls me out of it not with words but with his passion and commitment to never give up.
  4. The name on the front of your jersey represents who you play for. The name on the back of your jersey represents who raised you. Do them both justice. I focus on this lesson every time I want to be lazy at work or take a short cut. I cringe every time I make a mistake or display character that is selfish, self-centered, or downright awful. I recognize in those moments that I let down not only the families at SkyView but my family and their reputation. Not OK. Not even a little.
  5. There is a story behind every number, on every back, on every baseball player. I will never forget when Hunter first picked number 1 for the back of his jersey. When Paul and Hunter returned from practice with his uniform, I found myself horrified. I immediately pulled Paul aside and suggested that selecting number 1 was pretty arrogant. Paul smirked and encouraged me “to ask [your] son why he picked it.” After a 15-minute history lesson on the relationship between PeeWee Reese, who wore #1, and Jackie Robinson from my then 9-year-old, I realized I had much to learn. I realized that the lessons I would learn from this sport would far outweigh my own opinions and shallow understandings. Bottom line: Always look beyond surface level understanding. Avoid judgment. Seek to understand.
  6. Respect is two steps back. Believe that those around you will hit it out of the park. Respect others and their ability like an outfielder respects a batter.  By taking 2 steps back the outfielder acknowledges the ability of others.
  7. If you lack the will to dive, you lack the will to win. If you don’t go all out, all the time, you don’t want it bad enough. If Hunter’s uniform comes off the field clean, he didn’t go all out for his team. He made no sacrifice, took no risks. Baseballism sums it up this way, “Bruises go away, errors last forever.” Steph Curry and Draymond Green would say, “You have to go hard in the paint.” Second place is the first loser. The same is true for life. If you don’t work hard all the time, giving 110%, do you really want to succeed as much as you say you do?
  8. When in doubt, slide. No matter what obstacle you face, face it full force, focused on success. If you don’t think you’ll make it safely to the other side, throw your entire heart, soul, and body into it. No regrets. No halfways. Do whatever you can to avoid the tag.
  9. The player you are today should be able to outplay the player you were yesterday. After spending 10 weeks training last fall with Lightning Baseball out of Parker, Hunter earned a spot on their summer roster. He was over the moon. Why? The focus at Lightning extends FAR beyond winning. The coaches at Lightning Baseball focus on improving play for the next level. They model excellence on and off the field. They develop the entire player-mentally, emotionally, and physically. The same is true in life. The person we are today should be better than the person we were yesterday because we chose to learn from mistakes and make adjustments.
  10. There are 3 outs in baseball: out play, out hustle, and out-perform. Enough said. But just in case, to succeed in school, in work, and in life, we can’t sit back passively and watch things happen.

I could literally continue this post for pages. My bottom line. I hope that I live life in a way that honors those individuals I represent. I hope that I live life fully, completely, passionately, and intentionally. I hope that I choose to work in a way that demonstrates a commitment to excellence. I hope that I live in a way that encourages those around me to live in the same way.

As Baseballism would suggest, “Great plays aren’t made on balls you didn’t dive for.”

Honored to Serve You All,

Janet Worley

Food for Thought:  I love this! It’s my new response when Paul or I find ourselves being asked why we pay for sports! Why Do You Pay so Much for Sports

Family Fun in Colorado:  11 Colorado Waterfalls to Visit This Summer

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